Minnesota becomes latest state to pass bill guaranteeing rights for gig workers 

May 25, 2023, 11:33 AM UTC
An Uber driver checks his phone while sitting in the drivers seat of his car.
Minnesota passed a bill guaranteeing a minimum wage for gig workers at rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.

Good morning, it’s Paolo filling in for Amber!

Minnesota became the latest state to attempt to regulate tech companies that rely on gig workers. Earlier this week, the state Senate passed a bill guaranteeing drivers at rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, a minimum wage of $1.34 per mile and an additional $0.34 per minute. 

The bill could have longstanding implications for the compensation and benefits companies must provide drivers and delivery workers and is the latest state legislation for app-based gig work, following the passage of similar laws in California, Massachusetts, and Washington. 

Most of these bills center on whether to classify gig workers as independent contractors or employees. As employees, workers would be eligible for benefits, minimum wage, and paid time off. However, these proposals are often met by coordinated, big-money campaigns backed by tech companies like Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and Instacart that aim to provide concessions to labor activists in the form of guaranteed wages or benefits to maintain their independent contractor classification. 

Massachusetts, for instance, has two statewide, industry-backed bills: One that would provide rideshare drivers a minimum pay of $0.26 per mile and another that would allow them to opt into a flexible benefit account. Meanwhile, a competing labor-supported bill would allow drivers to unionize and collectively bargain for working conditions. 

California, which has been vocal in the gig work debate, is locked into a yearslong judicial back-and-forth to define gig workers’ rights. It filed an appeal in April to overturn a previous court ruling classifying gig workers as independent contractors.

In Seattle, local government officials proposed a bill earlier this month limiting companies’ ability to terminate rideshare drivers without warning. Since gig workers aren’t considered employees, they’re afforded fewer job protections and are not eligible for severance pay.

What’s interesting about the various bills proposed by labor advocates is their piecemeal approach to guaranteeing employment protections for gig workers—protections they would otherwise receive in one fell swoop were they to be categorized as employees.

Paolo Confino

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